Sunday, November 1, 2009

3am ramen noodles and stay-at-home feminism

last night was halloween and i took my husband's 17 year old sister to see "the rocky horror show". we'd both seen the movie and the shadow play before, but not the stage play. it is fantastic. it felt so much more alive than the film....not just because it was live (which isn't so different from the shadow play), but because the actors had their own interpretations of the characters. they did something new, rather than just copying how the actors in the film played the parts. it was great to see such a familiar story in a new way. and it was good to spend some time with my sister in law. i know she really misses my husband, and i miss my own little sister, so we are surrogate siblings for each other.

after the show some folks came over to my apartment for cards and drinks. it was really chilled out and nice. i only had two drinks, and mostly just made sure things were going smoothly. i made ramen noodles for people who needed to put some starch on their stomachs. it was a good night. i really enjoy being that person at a party who looks out for things and takes care of people. we're all in college and mostly all far away from family and home. i'm older, being a non-traditional student and married, and have my own home, and i like to be able to create some sense of hospitality and belonging for folks stuck in dorms. sure, ramen noodles is no gourmet meal, but i like being able to do things for people that otherwise won't be done. it's such a small thing, but in a college community the small things are important. we're all figuring out who we are apart from our families, and making new families and lives, and i think a lot can get lost along the way if the little things are forgotten. i'm trying to do more of the small things, and realizing that they may be the most important things in life. i feel most at home and at peace myself when i'm making other people feel at home. in fact, my home doesn't feel like home unless i invite people into it. otherwise it's just an apartment. 3am ramen noodles are the most fulfilling thing i've done all week.

i think this is really the heart of my growing dissatisfaction with school. no degree will ever make me feel whole the way that making a meal to share does. any system that values the degree over the shared meal is tragically broken. degrees are useful for finding a job, but any system that values finding a "good" job over sharing a meal is tragically broken. i'm happy with low-wage jobs. i loved nannying. i loved line cooking. i loved being a barista. those all let me connect with people in individual and meaningful ways, and none of them required even a high school diploma, let alone a degree. i'm realizing that i can stay in school and get a degree and then never use it, or i can not get a degree and then never use it. the second option would save me about $20K.

it's strange how much resistance i meet with when i articulate this. people are horrified that i am seriously thinking about "throwing away" my education, skills, etc. they cannot comprehend that i have no desire to make lots of money....every objection raised revolves around missing out on some dream job and never being able to make money or afford x,y, or z. but, i have never wanted the dream jobs. ever. my dreams are all about painting in the afternoon, and making enough spaghetti that i'm able to invite people to dinner who would otherwise eat alone, and having children and teaching them well. my dream job is to be a homemaker. that would be the job that would most fulfill me and make me happy.

now, i know that realistically i'll most likely have to have jobs other than that to pay the bills. but i never want a "career". i never want to have to split myself like that. i am absolutely a feminist, and i think giving women a choice whether to work inside the home or outside the home, and whether or not to raise a family, was so important. but limiting the choice to being a working mother is just as wrong as limiting the choice to being a stay-at-home mother. thanks to feminism i have a choice of what to do with my life. what i choose is the stay at home. it's not because i think the home is a woman's place. i think it's my place, where i am happiest. it's not because i'm trapped by patriarchy or unaware of my options. i know my options and i've chosen the one that i think is best for me. i've chosen that my creativity and effort and time will always belong first and foremost to my family, not because of obligation, but because that is where using them matters most to me. but when i say anything along these lines, most people act like being a homemaker is equivalent to being dead. they say "but you could do anything!", meaning "you could do anything we approve of and think you ought to do". what i want to do is use my talents to make people feel at home and at peace.

my amazing mom stayed at home. while not having a career she home schooled my siblings and i, went rock climbing, was endlessly creative and worked at fostering creativity in others, made meals for people who were sick, took in people without homes, taught her children how to cook and write poetry and quilt and think critically about the world, read more books than should be humanly possible, grew vegetables and flowers, and was active in the community. she lives the fullest life i have ever seen and has not one regret about not having a career. she's the strongest and most loving woman i know, and has always been who i look up to.

if i enter a career and work in all the usual ways at being "successful", i will end up wishing i had more time for the people and things i love. if i devote my life to the people and things i love, i will never regret not having that 9-5. i don't call doing what i love and living without regret "throwing my life away"., this was only supposed to be a paragraph or two about fun times last night.

1 comment:

  1. one thing i am learning is that we can't ever have everything we want or need, so better to choose what is transcient, what is only offered once. in a sense, the opportunity to get an education will always be there. there will always be universities and you will always be smart enough to get scholarships or poor enough for aid(haha). although of course it gets harder the older you are, its still possible to graduate college at 50. its not really so possible to pop out a kid at that age. i don't know that its any kind of wisdom to be always choosing that which is leaving fastest, but at least at the end you'll know that you lived a life full of moments that most other people passed over in favor of the "long haul", which is usually just a term for wasting years being unhappy in search of something you didn't really want in the first place.okay done.
    your schwester